Historians assume that Austronesian
seafarers and later Maldivian and Arab traders were the first to visit the
uninhabited Seychelles. Remains of Maldivian mariner presence from the 12th
century were found in Silhouette Island. The earliest recorded sighting by
Europeans took place in 1502 by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama, who
passed through the Amirantes and named them after himself (islands of the
A transit point for trade between
Africa and Asia, the islands were occasionally used by pirates until the
French began to take control starting in 1756 when a Stone of Possession was
laid by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were
named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s
Minister of Finance.
The British contested control over the
islands between 1794 and 1810. Jean Baptiste Quéau de Quincy, French
administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom,
declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he
successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain which gave the
settlers a privileged position of neutrality.
Britain eventually assumed full control
upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, formalised in 1814 at the Treaty of
Paris. Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903.
Elections were held in 1966 and 1970. Independence was granted in 1976 as a
republic within the Commonwealth.
To give you a better idea where the island group is,
nearby island countries and territories include Zanzibar to the west,
Mauritius, Rodrigues, Angaléga and Réunion to the south, and Comores and
Mayotte to the southwest.
There are 42 granitic
island, in descending order of size: Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette Island, La
Digue, Curieuse, Felicite, Frégate, Ste-Anne, North, Cerf, Marianne, Grand
Sœur, Thérèse, Aride, Conception, Petite Sœur, Cousin, Cousine, Long, Récif,
Round (Praslin), Anonyme, Mamelles, Moyenne, Île aux Vaches Marines, L'Islette,
Beacon (Île Sèche), Cachée, Cocos, Round (Mahé), L'Ilot Frégate, Booby,
Chauve Souris (Mahé), Chauve Souris (Praslin), Île La Fouche, Hodoul,
L'Ilot, Rat, Souris, St. Pierre (Praslin), Zavé, Harrison Rocks (Grand
There are two coral
islands south of the granitics: Coëtivy and Platte. There are also 29 coral
islands in the Amirantes Group, west of the granitics. There are 13 coral
islands in the Farquhar Group, south-southwest of the Amirantes. And finally
67 raised coral islands in the Aldabra Group, west of the Farquhar Group.
Climate change and the rising sea level could be the end of this island
The climate is equable although quite
humid, as the islands are small, classified as tropical rain forest. The
temperature varies little throughout the year. Temperatures on Mahé vary
from 24 to 30 °C (75 to 86 °F), and rainfall ranges from 2,900 mm (114 in)
annually at Victoria to 3,600 mm (142 in) on the mountain slopes.
Precipitation is somewhat less on the other islands. During the coolest
months, July and August, the average low is about 24 °C (75 °F). The
southeast trade winds blow regularly from May to November, and this is the
most pleasant time of the year. The hot months are from December to April,
with higher humidity (80%). March and April are the hottest months, but the
temperature seldom exceeds 31 °C (88 °F). Most of the islands lie outside
the cyclone belt, so high winds are rare.
Fauna and flora
Famous to the islands is the Black
Parrot, the national bird of the country and protected bird. The granitic
islands of Seychelles are home to about 75 endemic plant species, with a
further 25 or so species in the Aldabra group. Particularly well-known is
the Coco de Mer, a species of palm that grows only on the islands of Praslin
and neighbouring Curieuse. Sometimes nicknamed the "love nut" because of the
shape of its fruit which, with the husk removed, presents a "double" coconut
resembling buttocks, the coco-de-mer produces the world's heaviest seed
pods. The jellyfish tree is to be found in only a few locations on Mahé.
This strange and ancient plant in a genus of its own (Medusagynaceae) has
resisted all efforts to propagate it. Other unique plant species include the
Wright's Gardenia Rothmannia annae found only on Aride Island Special
Reserve.The freshwater crab genus is endemic to the granitic Seychelles, and
a further 26 species of crabs and 5 species of hermit crabs live on the
The Aldabra Giant
Tortoise now populates many of the islands of the Seychelles. The Aldabra
population is the largest in the world. These unique reptiles can be found
even in captive herds. It has been reported that the granitic islands of
Seychelles supported distinct species of Seychelles giant tortoises; the
status of the different populations is currently unclear.
There are several
unique varieties of orchids on the islands.
Seychelles hosts some of the largest
seabird colonies in the world. In the outer islands Aldabra and Cosmoledo
are home to the largest numbers. In granitic Seychelles the largest numbers
are on Aride Island including the world's largest numbers of two species.
The marine life around the islands,
especially the more remote coral islands, can be spectacular. More than
1,000 species of fish have been recorded. Since the use of spearguns and
dynamite for fishing was banned through efforts of local conservationists in
the 1960s, the wildlife is unafraid of snorkelers and divers. Coral
bleaching in 1998 has unfortunately damaged most reefs, but some reefs show
healthy recovery (e.g., Silhouette Island).
The main natural resources of the
Seychelles are fish, copra, cinnamon, coconuts, salt and iron.
Best time to
travel to Seychelles
The Seychelles has a
tropical climate: warm and humid with strong maritime influences. The
temperature is consistently 24-32°C, there is no distinct dry season and
there is some humidity at all times.
Many of the granitic Inner Islands have dramatic terrain; Mahé boasting
hills rising to 900m. The rainfall increases with altitude, though it is the
trade winds that really dictate the islands' climate and name its seasons.
From May to October the south-east trade winds (Southeast Monsoon) bring a
relatively dry period. Reaching its peak in July/August, there is little
precipitation and temperatures average 27°C, though seas can be a little
By November (pre-Northwest Monsoon), the winds start to change, bringing
light, warmer winds and the start of the main rainy season. During December
to March (Northwest Monsoon), Seychelles gets extremely wet, especially in
December and January, though the vegetation is lush, the winds generally
light and the sun at its warmest. This is also the cyclone season, though
only the most remote southern islands are within the cyclone belt.
This period is followed by the calmest, warmest month, April (Pre-Southeast
Monsoon), as the winds die down and start to change direction.
The currency used on
the islands is the Seychelles Roepies (SCR).
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